Updated · Aug 03, 2022
Best for: File encryption software for desktop users
What Is NordLocker?
The Nordlocker app is a desktop tool for Windows and Mac operating systems that lets you securely store your computer files. This is primarily via ‘the cloud’ – its remote online servers, extending your physical hardware space. However, you can also encrypt local files on your hard disk and send files securely to other NordLocker users.
The platform provides 3GB of NordLocker online encrypted storage for free, while greatly expanding this with a series of premium plans to suit individuals and businesses.
NordLocker security is top-notch and mirrors the approach taken by its partner service NordVPN. That means multiple encryption methods and a ‘zero knowledge’ policy. In other words, they don’t know nor have access to your encrypted files.
It doesn’t have a NordLocker iOS or Android app. You can still independently share your files themselves to your devices like any other file, however.
So, portability is still an option. It doesn’t glue you to your desktop.
Is NordLocker worth it? You’ll soon find out. Below are its individual features, so you know exactly what to expect.
NordLocker Cloud Storage
NordLocker’s primary feature is secure cloud storage. For the uninitiated, this simply refers to the storage of your files remotely on NordLocker’s own servers. It frees up space on your hard disks and adds an extra layer of security since files are encrypted.
It calls these cloud lockers, in keeping with the software’s name. They’re instantly accessible via a familiar folder system when you log in with your master password. Either add files to your lockers (folders) or remove/copy them back locally.
It’s easy to know whether to delete your files or upgrade plans thanks to its visual storage space icon.
Thanks to automatic syncing, you can store encrypted files locally and on the cloud at the same time, with any changes reflected at both ends.
NordLocker Offline Storage
NordLocker actually began its life as an offline file encryption tool and this feature remains a prominent part of the software. This appeals to both individuals and businesses who want to protect individual files or folders. On the other hand, you can’t encrypt entire drives as easily.
This is because you choose files or folders to add to a locker. In Windows, you find your NordLocker lockers in your Documents folder by default. You cannot encrypt a drive itself in this manner. However, everything beneath it can be.
This brings up a key negative, and there really aren’t many. When you send a file to an encrypted locker the original unencrypted file remains intact. You are copying it rather than cutting it. Therefore, you must manually shred the original to ensure the whole process isn’t a waste of time.
Of course, this takes mere seconds but it’s easy to assume the software would have a secure deletion feature.
Once logged in, you can access any NordLocker offline or cloud file and unencrypt it back to a normal folder on your computer.
The syncing feature is similar to how mobile devices sync your photos and data to a cloud storage platform. Turning this option on is entirely up to you.
When on, any local lockers automatically backup remotely as well. Adding new files to a locker, or indeed, new lockers, reflects on the cloud end. This essentially makes NordLocker portable.
Furthermore, syncing extends to any Windows or Mac computer you install the software on. Just log in, and you have access to your cloud lockers. This is perfect for those that travel between the office and home or have multiple computers but need access to the same files.
All your encrypted files are secure in the cloud if faced with system damage or worse. Just install NordLocker on a new computer to regain access. Because thieves don’t know your password, you remain protected even if the worst cybercrime occurs.
Nonetheless, note down or store its recovery key separately. You need this to recover your master password.
NordLocker Share Files
The capacity to share files makes it all the more useful in a NordLocker business setting. Or, indeed, any scenario where you want to securely send files to others.
It’s a bit more involved than attaching a file to an email, but this keeps NordLocker safe.
Instead, you grant permission for specific users to access a locker. Firstly, right-click and hit ‘share locker’. Secondly, enter the recipient’s email address. It then sends a link to open the locker.
For added internet security, the recipient themselves must have a NordLocker free or premium account to do this. If not, the email includes a handy download link so they can quickly install it.
In the office, you can install NordLocker across the entire network, using several master passwords depending on staff permissions. Alternatively, everyone could have their own individual account and share accordingly when the need arises.
DropBox and Google Drive Integration
Additionally, sharing files to other cloud platforms is possible thanks to integrations with DropBox and Google Drive, in particular.
The process is similar to email sharing, but you enter a DropBox or Drive account and the locker itself will be transferred. Then, anyone you grant permission to access these secondary platforms can download the locker and access it locally.
You can also manually send lockers to other storage solutions, but there isn’t, for example, NordLocker iCloud integration. In fact, iCloud has its own form of encryption and may be considered an alternative.
Unfortunately, the lack of NordLocker mobile support means you can only use your phone or other devices as a means of physical storage.
For example, if you download a locker on your smartphone at work, take it home, and transfer it to your computer. You cannot actually access the locker’s contents with a NordLocker mobile app.
NordLocker for Mac
In addition to the Windows app, there is also one for macOS 10.13 or higher. It functions in essentially the same way without any missing or added features. Where developers have failed is a lack of NordLocker iOS app or any kind of NordLocker Android solution.
With the pervasiveness of mobile devices, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher that you cannot access encrypted lockers via such an app. Especially when NordVPN does have mobile support.
There’s no NordLocker for Linux, so you’ll need to seek alternatives if you require file encryption and cloud storage on anything other than a Windows or Mac computer.
Furthermore, despite cloud storage usually having a web-based element, there’s no interface to access with a web browser. You can only log in and access its feature from your desktop or laptop.
Is NordLocker secure? Yes, many NordLocker user reviews recognize its high-level security.
Let’s take a closer look at the program’s security measures.
NordLocker Master Password Protection
The first thing you’ll notice is password protection. You must create a master password to even start NordLocker. You use this every time you open it. Furthermore, if it’s idle for just a few minutes, the password screen reappears. This provides protection if you leave your computer unattended.
Secondly, it gives you a recovery key to enter if you ever forget the password. You can’t just request a reminder email. This is because if someone hacks your email account, it compromises the reminder.
Of course, as noted, this should be stored separately. A good idea is to jot the characters down on a piece of paper and physically protect it away from your computer. Then spyware or backdoors cannot allow data scraping from your device.
Sadly, the software lacks multi-factor authentication. That would provide a further layer of security should someone obtain your password.
Curiously, the software also does not enforce strong passwords, though they do need to be at least six characters long. Therefore, it’s your responsibility to ensure your password is sufficiently complex and random enough.
End-to-End NordLocker Encryption
Encryption is vital - it makes files inaccessible and uncrackable, even if someone else stumbles across them.
Without NordLocker installed and decrypted by your specific password, the files are useless.
It uses cutting-edge AES256 encryption; the same kind used by the US government. This accompanies Argon2 and elliptic-curve cryptography (ECC).
Furthermore, encryption is end-to-end, meaning at every step of the way, everything remains encrypted. This applies whether storing in the cloud or sending files to a third party.
This does mean any recipients need NordLocker themselves, but that’s a necessary step for this level of information security.
NordLocker encryption further protects your files because the company itself doesn’t know your password and cannot decrypt said files. It calls this a zero-knowledge policy, which mirrors NordVPN’s zero-logs policy for those browsing the internet using its virtual private network service. This also applies to cloud storage. All files stored there are still encrypted.
If you’re a premium user, NordLocker has your billing information. But this doesn’t tie you to any of your files. The disadvantage is that if you forget your password and lose the key, there’s no way for support staff to recover your account.
HIPPA and GDPR Compliance
Any information you do provide NordLocker, such as when browsing the website, during the sign-up process or when corresponding with customer support, is GDPR compliant. This applies to users from the European Union and refers to data protection laws. In short, this legally obligates the company to process your personal data securely and to obtain consent before gathering it.
NordLocker also assures users that if you deploy the software within the healthcare industry in the United States, any patient data you store is HIPAA compliant.
So, is NordLocker secure? During the tests for my NordLocker review, I found nothing that could suggest a security vulnerability. Additionally, the company is so sure of its security, it has an ongoing challenge. It’s offering $10,000 to any ethical hacker who can manage to crack an encrypted locker. The so-called bounty has been running since early 2020 and so far, nobody has been successful. You’re in safe hands!
How Does NordLocker Work?
So, how does NordLocker work?
Fortunately, very easy on the user end. Behind the scenes, the AES256 cryptographic protocol means data sent to your lockers is randomly scrambled with a unique key. The only other person with the matching key to unscramble the data is you. This links to your password, so you don’t need any additional encryption software.
Utilizing the cloud, you grant access to a locker by inviting people by email rather than sending files to them directly. This lets them use their own version of NordLocker and password to access the files without ever revealing their password.
On the front end, everything is seamless and fast, with automated cloud syncing. Encryption applies at all times, so not even NordLocker developers or staff can decrypt your files.
Ease of Use and Interface
Despite such complex security and encryption methods, users only need to perform familiar tasks like entering a password and browsing folders.
All lockers display on the left and right-clicking in this window lets you create more. Highlighting a locker displays its contents in the main window.
You can open these files directly, copy them, or move them out of the locker and back to a regular folder on your computer. It also lets you choose whether individual files stay local, go to the NordLocker cloud only, or sync between both – the default setting.
You can also see how much cloud storage you have left at the bottom of this window.
On the right is more detailed information about a highlighted file. E.g., the filename, a larger thumbnail, the last modified date, etc. Furthermore, it reminds you who has access. Usually, this is only you but you’ll see those to whom you’ve also approved of in a list.
Lockers are many folders deep and the tree displays in a bar at the top. Likewise, if you have lots of files, you can sort them by the typical parameters or use a search function to narrow things down.
Drag-and-drop functionality is simple but a particularly beneficial feature of the NordLocker app. All you need to do is drag a file from your Windows or Mac computer and drop it on the main NordLocker window to encrypt it in a locker. You can move files out in the same way.
Another useful Windows feature lets you right-click any file or folder on your computer and ‘convert to locker’. This creates a new locker with the file or folder at the top level.
If for whatever reason you don’t like the NordLocker file system, navigating to the NordLocker folder in Windows Documents gives you direct access to the encrypted lockers. You can copy and move these around, add files to external or removable storage, and even delete them. However, for obvious reasons, this won’t delete it from the cloud.
Moreover, because of encryption, you obviously cannot access the files inside the lockers this way.
NordLocker vs Bitlocker
If you want something that’s more integrated with Windows, Bitlocker is an option. When looking at NordLocker vs BitLocker, the latter excels with full drive and disk encryption. However, it’s not recommended unless your primary motivator is drive encryption because there’s no cloud storage or file sharing.
One option missing that can be found elsewhere is secure deletion or shredding of original files. By default, your original unencrypted file stays put, while its copy encrypts. You can opt to cut/paste, but remnants may still remain on the hard drive for recovery by specialized software. The same issue emerges when you delete the file manually after copying it to an encrypted folder.
For most users, this is not a problem, but if you’re encrypting very sensitive files, you might want to seek out a secure deletion tool that writes over hard drive space that may still hold some of the data.
Finally, at the top of the software are links to manage your account and Dropbox/Google Drive integrations, as well as adding new lockers, and accessing help and support options. You can also easily import a folder and share a locker.
In conclusion, the vast majority of people will find NordLocker intuitive and a pleasure to use.
NordLocker support is good, providing a solid Help Center on the site, with FAQs and guides. There’s enough here to answer most user questions since the program is not that complex.
You access its direct support by email, either via a web form or directly from your email provider. Testing this resulted in an automated guarantee of a 24-hour response, and the actual response came in about 4 hours during the working day.
There is also a much faster live web chat feature, but this is only available for paying customers. This isn’t such a big deal because there’s no obligation to provide direct support for the free plan at all, and it’s not like there’s zero support available.
Furthermore, the nature of the program keeps NordLocker safe and easy to use out of the box. It’s difficult to imagine actually needing support in the first place unless there’s a rare billing glitch.
NordLocker cost is based on the amount of cloud storage space you want, with two straightforward plans. The company bills each plan monthly or yearly. There are also often deals for new users that apply for the first year.
The NordLocker Free plan is a lifetime solution that gives you a set 3GB of cloud storage. Once it’s full, you’ll need to delete files to continue.
Here’s a breakdown of the NordLocker premium plans:
- 2TB – $9.99/month or $119.88/year
- 500GB – $3.99/month or $47.88/year
Furthermore, you can opt to include NordVPN for $4.92/month or NordPass Premium, a password manager, for $2.99/month.
If you’re wondering, is NordLocker premium worth it? There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test it yourself without financially committing.
NordLocker Free vs Premium
Impressively, there is not a great deal of difference. All the key features remain the same, including easy encryption, access from multiple devices, and cloud storage.
The main difference is you only get 3GB on the free plan, while as seen in the NordLocker premium review, up to 2TB is available. Moreover, the premium plan opens up 24/7 live web chat support, whereas the free version limits you to email support.
Although requiring recipients of files to have NordLocker themselves is a bit of an annoyance, the fact they can have the free version while you send files from the premium version is a plus worth mentioning.
Both free and premium require you to sign up for an account. This simply needs your email address and an activation code. Create your master password and NordLocker gives you a recovery key in case you forget this.
The free version is not intrusive whatsoever – there are no bundled extras or toolbars and you won’t get annoying upgrade popups or emails. In fact, the only real encouragement to upgrade is a small link at the bottom of the window asking if you need more storage and would like to upgrade.
In conclusion, NordLocker provides a simple user experience for a complex process, which is exactly what you want from software. Users can easily encrypt computer files, back them up to the cloud, and share them with others. There’s zero fear of a data breach or hacking.
While the lack of NordLocker for iOS or Android is disappointing, desktop PC and Mac users will struggle to find better encryption and privacy tool. Especially one that supports secure cloud storage and file sharing.
If you’re unwilling to pay for NordLocker, the 3GB plan is more than enough to store your most sensitive files. Businesses and those who need more space won’t be put off by the affordable pricing.
With a stellar reputation, NordLocker is well worth your time.
Is NordLocker reliable?
In short, yes! During my NordLocker reviews of the free and premium versions, there was never an issue with encryption and decryption, storing files in the cloud, or sending files to others. It was fast, efficient, and easy for beginners. NordLocker simply does its job well.
Is NordLocker cloud safe?
It has end-to-end encryption, a zero-knowledge policy, and highly secure cloud servers.
Furthermore, the software itself is popular and has none of the questionable features that a lot of freeware contains. There’s certainly no sign of malware or other nasties and it doesn’t deliver unwanted add-ons, pop-ups, or spam.
In fact, the so-called Nordlocker malware analysis gave its conclusions about trojan horses that infiltrated over 3 million Windows-based computers between 2018 and 2020. User safety is at the forefront, so much so that it studies outside issues.
What is NordLocker premium?
The premium version is essentially the same program as the free version. Users just get more space and better access to customer support. You must take out either a monthly or yearly subscription. For more information, check the NordLocker review above.
A qualified journalist and longtime web content writer, Keelan has a passion for exploring information and learning new things. If he's not writing or pushing his own brands, you'll find him watching pro wrestling or trying not to rant about politics online.
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